Human rights defender and Acting Editor of the recently closed Amar Desh newspaper, Mr Mahmudur Rahman, has been placed on 12-day remand on charges of terrorism and sedition, after his arrest on 2 June 2010.
Amar Desh is a major daily newspaper in Bangladesh which has been critical of the government, regularly reported on repression of the media, torture and extra-judicial killings, and last year published an article accusing the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of financial irregularities. Front Line fears for the physical integrity of Mahmudur Rahman while in detention.
On 2 June 2010, at approximately 04:00, Mahmudur Rahman was arrested at the offices of Amar Desh, hours after the authorities cancelled the newspaper's publication rights. The closure of the newspaper resulted from an issue concerning the resignation of the publisher. Article 5 of the Press and Publication Act, 1973, states that any newspaper must have a publisher. However, on 10 June 2010, the High Court granted a stay of three months on the Government's order that had stopped publication of the newspaper.
On 6 June 2010 Case No.5 (6) 2010 was filed against Mahmudur Rahman at the Kotwali Police Station for allegedly obstructing government officials in their function whilst he was already in custody.
On 7 June 2010, Mahmudur Rahman was placed on remand for four days by two Metropolitan Magistrates in two separate cases: 3-day remand in the Tejgaon Police Station Case No. 2(6)2010 dated 02.06.2010 under sections 143, 342, 332, 353, 186, 506, 114 of the Penal Code, 1-day remand in Kotwali Police Station Case No. 5(6)2010 dated 02.06.2010.
On 8 June 2010 Mahmudur Rahman was placed on remand for another four days by the Metropolitan Magistrate Ismail Hossain relating to an anti-terrorism case that had been filed at Uttara Model Police Station (Case No. 43 dated 19.04.2010 under section 6(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2009). He was placed on a further four-day remand in a sedition case that had been lodged at the Airport Police Station (Case No. 21(6)2010 dated 07.06.2010 under sections 121A, 124A and 114 of the Bangladesh Penal Code).
Front Line believes that the arrest and detention of Mahmudur Rahman are directly related to his work with Amar Desh and his reports on human rights violations. Front Line is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defender. Given the fact that Bangladesh continues to record many cases of alleged torture and ill-treatment of prisoners Front Line calls for immediate access to be granted to Mahmudur Rahman's independent attorney.